Chrome 54 Developer for Android has a new feature that allows you to download web pages for offline viewing.
The new download manager in Google Chrome for Android ships with a new downloads manager. You find it with a tap on the menu icon, and when you open it, get a selection of the latest downloads on the device.
A tap on the menu there displays the Gigabytes downloads use on the device, the amount of free space, and options to filter downloads by type.
Types provided include pages, video, audio, documents, images or other. A tap on any of the filters displays only matching file types on the downloads page.
What is probably more interesting from a user's point of view is the new web page download option. Google integrated the option to download the active web page right into the Chrome menu.
All you need to do is open the page that you want to access while offline, tap on menu, and then on the download icon in the top row.
Chrome downloads the page automatically for offline viewing, and lists it under downloads from where you may open it.
Any page that is available as offline is listed as such when opened. This is indicated by the notification"viewing an offline copy of this page" and the offline tag in the address bar.
A reload link is displayed on the page as well to attempt to load a live version of the page.
Please note that you may access downloaded pages only from downloads. If you load a page directly, either by entering its url in the address bar or following a link, a live page is loaded instead.
There is no option currently to change the process. An option to always load the offline copy if available would be useful to some users probably.
You may delete any saved page by long-tapping on it on the downloads page.
A quick test of the download capabilities revealed that it works well on many Internet sites. The new feature did not download all pages correctly though for offline viewing. While the process seemed to work, only a white page with no content was displayed when the offline copy of certain pages was accessed after they have been downloaded.
Google has time to work on the feature, and it seems likely that it will receive some polish before it lands in the stable version of Chrome.
Offline access is a useful feature, especially in situations where a device's Internet connection is not the most reliable one. Also, saving pages for offline use may save bandwidth, and it is usually faster to load an offline copy that is already on the device than to connect to Internet sites to display a copy.
Now You: What's your take on the feature? Useful?